30 Days of Indie Travel Project: Home

Perhaps my shirt says it all about where I call home?

The theme for Day 13 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project* is Home.

For some people, no matter how much they love traveling, there’s always no place like home. Other travelers make their homes wherever they happen to be. Tell us about your home – where is it and why do you consider it your home?

In recent years, I have considered myself to have two homes: Minnesota (where I grew up) and Chicago (where I lived for the last ten years).

I only get back to Minnesota a couple times a year, usually around Christmas and perhaps once or twice more. But whenever I do, I always say “I’m going home to Minnesota.”

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Minnesota, most of it in a suburb of St. Paul called White Bear Lake. The town (and lake) was actually once a summer vacation destination for wealthy St. Paul residents back in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Today we might be best known for our futility in the State Hockey Tournament and a mention we get by the two cheerleaders in the movie FargoGo Bears!

My family no longer lives in White Bear Lake, but they still reside in nearby suburbs. Most of my childhood friends have left the town as well, but can still be found in and around the Twin Cities.I left White Bear Lake when I was almost 18 to go to college at the University of Iowa.  I had more bad memories from junior high and high school than good ones and I was dying to get away. In the days before e-mail was commonplace and Mark Zuckerberg was barely born yet, it was nearly impossible to keep in touch with the few I wanted to stay close to.

By the time I returned to Minnesota four years later to attend law school, I felt like I no longer belonged there.

I never really considered staying in Minnesota after finishing law school. At the same time, I don’t really recall how I decided upon Chicago – it just kind of happened.

Over the last ten years I built a life in Chicago. I had a great job, and then another good job and then a new career altogether. I met new people through work, through networking events, through volleyball and tennis and running and, increasingly, through friends of friends of friends. I enjoyed running along the lakefront, going to summer street fests and playing volleyball on North Avenue Beach.

When I traveled, I told people I was from Chicago. And when I visited Minnesota or anywhere else, when I returned to Chicago, I was “going home to Chicago.”

But after ten years, I started to feel like I no longer belonged in Chicago.

My initial close friends in the city started getting married and having babies and (gasp!) moving to the suburbs. The social life I enjoyed when I was 25 and new to the city was no longer what I enjoyed as a mid-thirty-something. The people I spent most of my time with weren’t the same close friends who knew me and understood me and would be there for me no matter what. They were “bar friends” – regular social acquaintances at best. They didn’t get it when I started talking about leaving my job to travel and they didn’t offer support and encouragement throughout my preparation – they were indifferent.

Now that I have been on the road nearly three months, I simply think of the USA as being home.

As long as my family is in Minnesota, that will be one home, but I really can’t see myself living there again – at least not in the near future.

Part of me still considers Chicago home as well. I do still have good friends there and the longer I have been gone, the more I see things about the city that I miss.

But I can also see myself settling somewhere else when my current trip has ended, whether it is Seattle, Boston, DC or somewhere overseas like St. Petersburg or Budapest or some city I haven’t even visited yet.

What I do know is I have no desire to be a so-called “digital nomad.”

While I like the idea of being  “location independent” – having the ability to work from anywhere – I need a home base.

I need stability.

I need routine.

I need a comfortable, familiar place to return to every evening.

I need friends to call up at the end of a bad day who can meet me at the bar in half an hour to commiserate.

I need a place to call home, wherever that may be.

*Throughout the month of November, BootsnAll is inviting bloggers from around the world to join them in a daily blogging effort – the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project –  designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.

4 thoughts on “30 Days of Indie Travel Project: Home”

  1. I was *just* talking to Andy about this, about how neither of us wants to be a nomad and how important home is. We’re both people who like our routines and our friends. I’m struggling a bit right now because I don’t really have friends in Freiburg yet, and Atlanta isn’t somewhere I have a lot of close friends. I’m craving that ability to just call up a friend to go meet for dinner or something. Home and a sense of stability is important, and I’m definitely learning that even more on my round the world trip.

    1. Hang in there – I’m sure it will just be a matter of time before you make friends in Freiburg. But yes, it is so important to just have someone close by you can lean on if need be (at least it is for me). That is probably the biggest reason for me to return to Chicago after my trip – even though I drifted from a lot of people before I left, there are still a few good friends there that I know I can count on no matter what.

  2. I recently wrote about my feelings on home also, and I haven’t even been traveling much, and have only been abroad once. I agree with what you say about the US being home – I think that’s how I feel now, but I’m definitely already creating a list of cities where I’d like to live when I’m done with traveling – and none of them are places I’ve previously called “home.”

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